Sun Moon Visitor center built by Tokyo-based Norihiko Dan and Associates is the winning entry to the international competition- the landform series held in Taiwan in 2003. It was a part of the development of four sightseeing centers to promote Taiwan‘s natural abundance. The structure is a reflection of the symbiotic relationship between architecture and the morphology of the land.

Sun Moon Lake Visitor Center unveiled by Norihiko Dan - Sheet1
Ariel view of Sun Moon Visitor Center ©Norihiko Dan and Associates


Situated at the shore of the Sun Moon Lake the structure houses the administrative office of the tourism bureau and information center for the visitors. Located amongst the hilly molded landscape of Sun Moon Lake, the Visitors center serves as an important tourist attraction spot for the picturesque Chinese city of Taiwan. Described as “mysterious, tranquil and beautiful” the site shrouded by mist is known for its enchanting views. 

Aim of the design

The architect revealed the design aimed to create a model to establish the relationship between man and his surroundings while preserving the surrounding and amplifying the advantages of the site. Buildings have been built on landforms for ages with few exceptions in history showing structures built within the landform. Inspired from early Christian monasteries in Cappadocia, dug directly into the tufa stone, or the Yaodong dwellings dug into the rock of the Loess Plateau in China the architect Dan Norihiko aimed to revive the relation between architecture and land. In order to emphasize upon horizontality in architecture and address the issue of soil disposal, the structure reuses the soil produced during the foundation construction stage.

Sun Moon Lake Visitor Center unveiled by Norihiko Dan - Sheet2
View from the Sun Moon Lake ©Anew Chen
Sun Moon Lake Visitor Center unveiled by Norihiko Dan - Sheet3
View of the Sun Moon Visitor Center ©Anew Chen

About the structure

Drawing inspiration from dynamic landscape the two boomerang shaped organic structures nestled into one another appear to be gradually rising from the sloping mount. Expressed as “half landscape and half architecture “the two wings of the structure primarily serve as the administrative office and 200 seated lecture halls. In continuation to the natural cove, bodies of water have been used throughout the building to enhance the water effect by mirroring distant views upon it. Structured with exposed concrete the fluid-structure stands in juxtaposition with its green roof. A large water body sits between the lake and the structure that helps to create a visual extension of the lake. The union of the lake and the water basin with the building structure through the mountain-like slopes help in creating a multilayered landform. The ground floor of the building connects the structure to expansive outdoor blurring the line between inside and outside. The dynamism of the structure draws the visitor towards it and opens up to unusual views.

Sun Moon Lake Visitor Center unveiled by Norihiko Dan - Sheet4
Plan of the Visitors Center ©Norihiko Dan and Associates
Sun Moon Lake Visitor Center unveiled by Norihiko Dan - Sheet5
Water Channels through the structure ©Enta Yang
Exposed Concrete Curves  ©Anew Chen

The Visitors center has been lauded for its seamless integration into its surroundings as an attempt to establish a new dialogue between land and architecture. The structure exemplifies responding to the environment rather than being a mere tourist attraction spot.


Rose Etherington17 th. February,2011 “Sun Moon Lake visitor centre by Norihiko Dan and AssociatesAccessed via Dezeen. 

Erika Kim 22 nd February,2011 “Norihiko dan and associates: sun moon lake visitor center” Accessed via Designboom. 


A student of PMCA Cuttack. She believes nothing is black or white but grey. Like the meaning of her name, she is in quest of her grey; the perfect balance in life be it through her words or design. Her love for architecture, history, and baking best describes her.